Into Your Realm
"Wherever you go, that's where you are."---Ancient Proverb
We've all run across this at somtime or another. We've all probably committed the same error. Sometimes we just can't help ourselves. What the heck am I talking about? Let me give you an example:
Robert looked around. To him the forest was beautiful. The leaves of the giant trees somehow reflected the sunlight, and the glen in which Robert stood shimmered a brilliant green. The nearby brook echoed its unending rhythms and soothing sounds. Robert walked towards a barren patch of grey-brown dirt where a fire sent whisps of smoke drifting towards the blue sky. His bare feet sank into the soft grass leaving temporary indentations before the blades rebounded to their full height. The hush of the forest was interrupted periodically by the sounds of woodland creatures which passed closely enough to sense a presence but not so close as to engage that presense. Peering around Robert saw no other humans. The forest was his.
The above paragraph lets us know the setting of a story. Boy does it let us know.
What do we want to accomplish when we develop our settings for the short story? The basics of setting are place and time. Our characters need some location in which to act, and they need to take these actions in a set period of time. Like all aspects of a short story, however, it is important that we remember what we are really trying to achieve when we develop our setting.
In addition to creating a space for our story, the setting should acommoplish one primary task: keeping the reader in the fictional reality you are inventing. The setting of a story should help the reader become so in tune with your vision that their focus is complete. The setting should be one of, if not the primary driver, that helps take the reader out of the real world and into your fictional world.
Now back to my example. While not a Horrid Example (at least in one man's opinion) you'll find that there is so much going on, especially in the details associated with the setting, that a reader might start to lose interest. The reader might pause to think about the writing, think about whether or not a forest can shimmer, or think about some other aspect of the prose. This is never a good thing.
When working on settings we should keep in mind the adage that "every word of a short story should count and carry its own weight". There are no throw away words in a short story and overly descriptive settings only hinder our reader's ability to enjoy what we write.
Like I said at the start, we've all done it. We provide too much detail resulting in a story that plods along instead of propelling our reader away. Be mindful of your setting and your readers will enter your realm and escape, at least momentarily, theirs.
Be forewarned, I think this is going to be a tough one...</i>
In 250 words or less, describe a room while completing a story. Obviously you will need to avoid unnecessary details which do not contribute to the overall content. The focus of the story should revolve around the description of the room and not necessarily around those that populate it. Good luck!
Note: Next month's exercise will also focus on setting, so continue to think about how you go about working on setting and how it is important to the story.
© Copyright 2006 T.S. Garp (UN: tsgarp at Writing.Com).
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